Patellofemoral pain constitutes a quarter of the injuries to the knee. Kneecap pain can be both debilitating and frustrating; prolonged pain can limit physical activity and cause those suffering from it to abandon their recreational and sporting activities.
Patellofemoral pain usually manifests as a gradual onset of pain around the edge or underneath the kneecap during physical activities. Common activities such as descending hills or stairs, squatting, running, or sitting for long periods of time can all aggravate the pain and cause soreness.
How your knee works
The knee joint is made up of three bones: the femur (thigh bone), the tibia (shin bone), and the patella (kneecap). The patellofemoral joint refers to the kneecap and the groove (trochlea) in the femur in which the patella sits. The four muscles of the quadriceps all attach to the patella. The patella is a sesamoid bone (the bone is embedded within the tendon) and it plays a crucial role in the function of the leg by lengthening the lever arm of the muscles and tendons of the quad to maximize power and function and by acting as a shield to protect the knee from direct trauma. The cartilage covering the kneecap within the knee joint acts as a shock absorber, protecting the underlying bone from stress. With running and jumping, the knee (and its overlying cartilage) can experience forces up to 8 times bodyweight. The cartilage itself does not have a nerve supply, but the bone underneath has an extensive nerve supply and these nerves become painful when the cartilage is not functioning properly to pad and protect the bone.
In patellofemoral syndrome, or PFS (also known as runner’s knee), the cartilage undersurface of the patella become angry, inflamed, irritated, and the kneecap hurts.
How to treat PFS or runner’s knee
Loosen things up. Use a foam roller to roll out the quad muscle and the illiotibial (IT) band. These tissues all hook into the kneecap and can contribute to pain when they are tight.
Make things stronger. In the early recovery period (the first several weeks when you are just starting out on your recovery journey) ....